JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Summer is upon us, and many parents are thinking about summer camp for their children. This is also the time to be thinking about school and classroom choice for the next school year.

There are many school choices for parents and students. You may be asking yourself: Does my child qualify for special placement in a private school, and what do I need to know to make the right choice?

Licensed Social Worker and President and CEO for Daniel, Jim Clark, has little more about school choice.


Clark says a lot of parents are looking at options, including public education, but Clark says parents need to consider alternatives in education, particularly if their child is having academic and behavioral problems.


"There are more options than ever before for parents to help their children academically," Clark says. "Both of my children had to overcome academic struggles. They are now both adults and as you may know, my daughter graduated from Yale and my son from Morehouse College."

Clark says this is what parents need to know:

· Parents, you are responsible for your child’s academic choices -- not the school, teacher, or principal. Unless you take the bull by the horns, you can expect to be gored.

· If you child is having academic or behavioral problems, regardless of age, it is a good first step is to start with a health screening through your child’s pediatrician. Sometimes behavioral or learning problems can be linked to health issues.

· Additionally, speak to your child’s teacher, school counselor, or administrator regarding your concerns. Of course, if your child is having severe behavioral problems, most schools will provide you with a number of options that can assist you in getting help. A few examples are one-on-one attention and tutoring.

· Request your child be evaluated by the school counselor or social worker.

· Early intervention is key. If a parent is concerned about the developmental or social development of their child, I encourage seeking intervention services prior to the child entering the school system.


Clark says there are wonderful agencies in our area that offer evaluation services. Some services are free, while other agencies offer services on a sliding scale.

Here are a few options for parents:


SEDNET

http://www.sednetfl.info

(904) 272-8123

A network for students with emotional/behavioral disabilities who live in Duval, Clay, and Nassau Counties.

FDLRS

www.fdlrs.org

(386) 329-3811

Early childhood screening for children under the age of five living ?in Baker, St. Johns, Union, Flagler, and Putnam Counties.

THE CHILD GUIDANCE CENTER

http://www.childguidancecenter.org

(904) 448-4700

Case management, medical management, early intervention services.

HOPE HAVEN

www.hope-haven.org

(904) 346-5100

Special Services for children and young adults with challenging diagnosis of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Autism, Down Syndrome.


Clark says there are many private and charter schools in the area. He says Daniel Academy, is just one example of a private school designed to address the disproportionate number of children who lag academically and socially behind their peers beginning as early as the first grade. You can find out more about Daniel Academy www.danielacademyjax.com.

Clark says parents can also visit the Florida Department of Education website at www.fldoe.org, for school choice information.


For many schools, Clark says the admissions process begins with an interview, a tour, and a records review. At Daniel, Clark says parents are able to meet administration and staff, discuss their child's needs, and ask any questions they might have. He says the tour of the school allows families to see the classes in action. Administration will review current IEPs, records, and other pertinent information to determine the most appropriate placement and curriculum for the student.


When it comes to payment, Clark says every school is different, but most schools qualify students who have a current IEP (Individualized Education Plan) and are receiving the McKay scholarship. Parents can apply here:

https://www.floridaschoolchoice.org/Intent/McKayIntent/StudentIntent.aspx